Investors Warming To Renewables

BMI view: We have upwardly revised the solar and biomass components of our non-hydro renewables forecasts this quarter, in light of stronger than expected installation rates for solar and a revision to historic data for biomass generation. We have left the geothermal and wind power forecasts unchanged as our fundamental assumptions with regards to these markets remain in place, with the geothermal industry losing momentum and an expected slowdown in wind capacity additions occurring after the last minute rush to get projects online before subsidies expired at end-2012. That said, we do believe that sentiment towards the US renewables market has improved markedly over 2013, as the US government appears to have strengthened its commitment to its green energy policy.

We have made a number of changes to our non-hydro renewables forecasts for the US this quarter, primarily within the biomass and solar segments. In relation to the biomass sector, we have upwardly revised biomass generation, owing to an alteration in historic data. Historic data for biomass capacity remained the same.

We have also revised both our solar generation and capacity forecasts as installation rates over 2012 - and so far during 2013 - have surprised to the upside. Over 2012, over 3GW of solar capacity is estimated to have been added to the country's grid, taking total installed capacity to nearly 7.8GW. Additionally, positive data over the course of 2013 has shown that the solar sector experienced robust growth during Q1 and Q2, and reportedly in October alone, 530MW of solar capacity was installed. We now expect just under 4GW to be added during 2013, equivalent to a growth rate of 51%. Positive announcements over the last couple of months from the US solar sector, such as the news that Energy Capital Group LLC (ECG) is developing a mammoth 300MW solar power project in Millard County in Utah, and that a large solar CSP plant in Arizona is using energy storage technology to effectively keep power flowing for a reported six hours after the sun has gone down, generates continued optimism for the industry going forward (see 'Sun Down, But Lights On For Solar', October 15). That said, we do expect growth to moderate as the industry expands and becomes more saturated, reaching over 20GW by the end of our forecast period in 2022.

Solar's Contribution Increasing
US Non-Hydro Renewables Capacity, By Type (MW), 2013/2022 and US Solar Generation (TWh) And Capacity (MW), 2012-2022

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This article is tagged to:
Sector: Renewables
Geography: United States